Explore Your Own Backyard

Ordinarily I don’t do New Years resolutions. I already don’t drink or smoke, I’m generally quite an active person, and I’m a vegetarian with a minor intolerance to lactose so am already halfway to an MBE for services to animal welfare.

Contrary to what I sometimes lead certain people to believe, my diet is balanced enough. So I sometimes eat 2 share-size bars of Dairy Milk a day – who doesn’t?! My BMI is in the average range, my blood sugar level things are fine and my blood pressure is absolutely spot-on. The only thing wrong with me from a medical standing is that my veins are the size of a five-year old’s, as confirmed at my local GP practice on 3 different occasions. Oh, I also have a clicky shoulder but apparently I just need to stop slouching.

So with all that being said, there’s no need to change my diet or style of life. At least not yet.

Now that I’ve finished briefing you all on my current health and dietary situation, the point I’m trying to make is that your regular new years resolutions; the ones that are repeated without success year after year by the same people? The giving up alcohol, the quitting smoking, the losing 3 stone, the becoming veggie/vegan. Yeah, they’re not for me.

It sounds a bit silly but I don’t like the kind of resolutions that have an end goal. I don’t like promising myself that I’ll do something within a limited amount of time where the only outcome is success or failure. Because then I’ll feel like a failure when I fail. Because with my lack of willpower, chances are I will fail.

And even if I succeed…what then?! I suppose I give myself a hearty pat on the back and move on with my life. Because once you’ve quit smoking, you’ve quit. A hell of an achievement for sure, but that’s it.

The kind of resolutions I like – the promises I like to make myself – are the ones that I can keep working on year after year after year; the kind of resolutions that will hopefully, in the long term, enrich my life in some way.

A friend once told me that the reason they wanted to pursue a career as a doctor was because you can always keep moving up the ladder. There’s always room for improvement, for promotion.

That’s the sort of quality I want my resolutions to have.

A little while ago I was reading this post written by Flora of Mademoiselle World, one of my favourite blogs. The post as a whole resonated with me massively, but one line in particular really hit home hard:

“I’m so obsessed with exploring the world that I don’t even take the time to explore my own backyard.”

It’s like Flora took the words that have been jumbled up in my brain, unsure what they’re trying to say, and molded them together into a perfectly phrased sentence explaining my exact sentiments.

Over the last five years I’ve spent so much time trying to get as far across the globe as I can, to all the ‘cool‘ places, the ones that seem so exotic and faraway and the makings of a great story that I’ve kind of neglected the beauty which can be found in my own backyard.

Not literally in my actual backyard though. That’s full of Japanese knotweed and probably a stray cat or two. Not much beauty to be found there, I can assure you.

But Wales as a whole is bloody majestic, let me tell you! We have castles and sheep and coastlines and cities and villages and sheep and mountains and oh, did I mention sheep? Some of Swansea’s beaches have won international acclaim for their beauty. DOBBY WAS BURIED IN PEMBROKESHIRE!!!! North Wales even features as one of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2017 Regions. Yet despite all of the above being within day trip distance of my home, I’ve never been.

Wales is a little bit of alright.

Just yesterday I was listening in awe to one of my colleagues recounting tales of his trip to Edinburgh and how he visited many of the sites that inspired JK Rowling in many aspects related to Harry Potter. I hung to his every word, thinking to myself “one day I’ll go there” as if he was talking about going to Mars or something, forgetting that Edinburgh is less than ten hours away from Cardiff.

I don’t bat an eyelid about spending almost 25 hours and the better part of £1000 flying from one side of the world to the other, chasing postcard worthy shots of things and places I don’t even understand, yet spending a tenth of the amount on a weekend trip within what is technically my own country is almost unthinkable.

What kind of logic is that?! 

Moving slightly further afield, let’s talk about Europe.

While some may class this as more of the lane behind my house as opposed to my backyard, in terms of proximity and ease of access it may as well be a potted sunflower proudly standing right beside my back door.

With the likes of Ryanair, Wizzair, Easyjet and friends, it’s easier and more affordable than ever to quickly get from UK to almost anywhere in Europe. The flight for my recent trip to Riga cost only £50, and would have been even cheaper had I opted to stay an extra day. In a few weeks I’ll be heading to Krakow for a few days – again with £50 flights. It’s insane!

Riga – Home of startling realisations

In one of my most recent posts (FYI, you can read it here if you fancy!) I went on about how travel shouldn’t be about crossing countries off of lists for the sake of it, and how you should go somewhere because you actually want to go there and not because Mongolia is the only country in Asia you haven’t been to. Although let’s be real, who doesn’t want to go to Mongolia?! It looks freaking awesome.

And I still stand by every single thing I said in that post.

But everything I already said there, combined with what I’m saying now has made me realise that I’ve spent so much time, effort and money chasing sunsets and waterfalls and adventures all the way across the world that I’ve neglected to open up my curtains and look outside at what’s right here in front of me. Which is beauty and adventure, excitement and new experiences.

So for 2017 I resolve to bring my adventures a little closer to home. To explore my own backyard.

That’s not to say I won’t be flying off to a different continent at all this year (India can’t keep me away tbh), merely that I’m going to give Europe and the UK more of a chance. Previously when thinking of somewhere to spend a month or two travelling, Europe wouldn’t even have hit my radar. I would have deemed it too expensive, too close and – forgive me – too boring. But now? Now Europe is my radar.

So here’s to 2017, may it be filled with haggis and strudel and a whole truckload of Europe-based fun!

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42 Comments

  1. 2nd January 2017 / 12:02 pm

    Haha, by the way, kind of jealous that you get to count the whole of Europe as your backyard. As we have the same resolution, maybe we should keep each other accountable! Good luck with your goal.

    • rhiydwi
      2nd January 2017 / 3:20 pm

      Well I figured it’s unfair for Americans to have the whole of the US and Aussies to have the whole of Oz while I have little old Blighty, so it’s only fair for me to allocate myself a whole continent 😉 Oh yeah great idea, should definitely do that!! Right back at ya, I’ll be keeping an eye out for all your local adventures.

      • 3rd January 2017 / 9:49 am

        Haha YES that is true – but to be fair, 70% of Oz is uninhabitable desert and therefore a whole lot of nothingness…! I’ve added you to my feedly. May be currently binge reading your blog. It’s great, I’m lolling like mad.

        • rhiydwi
          3rd January 2017 / 11:42 pm

          Let’s pretend I didn’t just have to use Google to find out what Feedly is…haha. But I’m really glad you’re enjoying it 🙂 And ye ah, I always forget that about Oz. Same with Canada. They’re both so big but at the same time..they’re not(?!)

  2. 2nd January 2017 / 1:04 pm

    Love this! Thought I’ll be abroad for the better part of the year (flight to India next week), I’d love to explore the US a bit. Just realized I’ve been to more Indian states than US states. Oye. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • rhiydwi
      2nd January 2017 / 3:19 pm

      It’s crazy when you think about it from that perspective! Although the U.S. is absolutely massive so you get a bit of leeway there. I’m actually ashamed when almost every single international student I meet tells me how much they love Scotland and I’m like “Oh, I’ve never been”. This year’s the one to change that! Thanks for reading and ahhhh how exciting you’re leaving next week.

  3. 2nd January 2017 / 6:05 pm

    That’s a good resolution you made! UK has some beautiful areas, I would love to hike mount Snowdon one day, or along Hadrian’s wall.

    • rhiydwi
      3rd January 2017 / 11:32 pm

      Yes! Snowdonia is definitely high on the list (no pun intended haha).

  4. 3rd January 2017 / 4:06 pm

    I really love the sound of this, I haven’t ever been to Scotland which is ridiculous and as much as I love the Welsh coast, I know there’s still so much to see. This Summer I want to explore more of my ‘backgarden’ too!

    http://fourcatsplusus.co.uk – Amy

    • rhiydwi
      3rd January 2017 / 11:55 pm

      I know, right?! The UK is sooo small compared to some countries and Scotland really isn’t that far away, but it’s always seemed like such a trek to get to. This year though, this year.

  5. 3rd January 2017 / 5:32 pm

    Blech! Haggis. Don’t do it!! It’s a trap! Can’t wait to read about all your gallivanting in your ‘backyard.’ 🙂

    • rhiydwi
      3rd January 2017 / 11:50 pm

      Hahaha, but surely not trying haggis in Scotland is like going to Italy and not eating the pizza?! Thanks Bex 🙂 Your comment just reminded me I need to reply to your email!

  6. 6th January 2017 / 2:33 pm

    Oh I love your friend’s quote! It’s so important to explore our own areas- but I too get caught up in the rest of the world!

    • rhiydwi
      7th January 2017 / 3:50 pm

      I think we all do to a certain extent! I blame TV haha.

  7. 6th January 2017 / 2:45 pm

    I’m on the same wavelength here. I’ve been keen on exploring remote countries for so long, forgetting my own backyard. Thanks to all these low cost flights, I’m going to visit lots of European cities this year.

    • rhiydwi
      7th January 2017 / 3:57 pm

      Yeah exactly! I recently went to Riga with a £50 return ticket, and am about to go to Poland for the same! For that cost I can’t even get to London from my home, it’s ridiculous but also so convenient!

  8. 6th January 2017 / 4:01 pm

    When your backyard is Europe, do you really want to be elsewhere? Jokes apart, you’re right, travellers often find the grass is greener far beyond their own country/continent. I have made the same resolution as you…to explore more of my own country along with others. Happy travels to us!

    • rhiydwi
      7th January 2017 / 4:07 pm

      Funny you should say that because I’d love for India to be my backyard! I have a list as long as my arm of places I want to go and things I want to do in India, but in my own country? I maybe have 3 or 4 things haha.
      I’m excited to follow along with where 2017 takes you!

  9. 7th January 2017 / 2:21 am

    This is exactly my current mindset. Before I go out to explore the world, I need to focus in my own country first. There is an added incentive to this being cheaper than overseas travel.

    • rhiydwi
      7th January 2017 / 3:56 pm

      Just read a few of your posts about your mainland American travels, am absolutely loving it and so jealous!

    • rhiydwi
      7th January 2017 / 3:55 pm

      Thanks!

  10. 7th January 2017 / 10:33 am

    I completely agree! For years only exotic destinations were good enough for me. A weekend trip to a German city (I am from Holland) was a waste of money and I haven’t been to London for years because “you know how far you can travel for the money you spend on a weekend in London?!”. But I am finally starting to see how beautiful Europe is and how much there is to explore. So I am joining you and exploring my backyard more this year as well 🙂

    • rhiydwi
      7th January 2017 / 4:01 pm

      It could cost me as little as £10 to get to and from London on the bus from my home, but I’ve always thought that when you factor in all the added costs of a weekend in London (food, accommodation, sightseeing etc.) “It’d work out cheaper to just fly to India“. Mmm, not exactly haha. Plus Europe is sooo diverse and easily accessible these days London definitely isn’t the only option! I’m excited to see what you get up to in the upcoming year Sanne, thanks for reading!

  11. 7th January 2017 / 11:42 am

    Another reason to stay at home and explore is the weak pound after the Brexit. I’m from Yorkshire and I am starting to explore here more. Another advantage of exploring your own backyard is that they speak your language and eat your food! Stress free travel!

    • rhiydwi
      7th January 2017 / 3:59 pm

      Good point you’ve got there!
      You say they speak your own language but I have less difficulty understanding someone speaking Romanian than I do a Geordie person speak English haha.

  12. 7th January 2017 / 2:14 pm

    Wales is a pretty decent backyard if you ask me! I still haven’t been but I fell head over heels for Ireland so I can only imagine…
    I haven’t really seen much of my own either, Québec that is. It’s such a big province with limited transport, fairly expensive too. But it’s breathtaking. There’s so much to see and do, especially for a nature’s lover like me.
    We live in Germany now, but I think that once we have kids and all we’ll probably start travelling more to closer places. They don’t stop being worthy of our attention just because of their proximity! 🙂

    • rhiydwi
      7th January 2017 / 4:06 pm

      Yep, I definitely don’t give it enough credit! People often compare both Ireland and Wales landscape and scenery-wise although I have to say Wales has a friendlier people 😉
      Oooh Québec does look beautiful! All of Canada does actually! I’d love to go on one big, long road trip around the country some day. Couldn’t have said it better myself! Proximity doesn’t lessen the value of anywhere!

  13. 7th January 2017 / 3:40 pm

    Coming from Australia we could always never believe how those from the UK had never travelled in what we consider to be their backyard- Europe and/or their own country! It’s so cheap to fly!

    Though I guess there are always things in Aus I’ve never seen- like Adelaide haha

    • rhiydwi
      7th January 2017 / 4:04 pm

      A lot of my international friends have the same disbelief. When I say I’ve never been to Scotland/Liverpool/Manchester etc. they’re all “But…why?” and I actually have no answer! But then I guess I’d have the same thoughts towards you.. “But why have you not been to Adelaide?” haha.

  14. 7th January 2017 / 4:37 pm

    I agree…there is usually so much to do around us that we ignore. Recently, my husband and I have started taking walking tours in our city…we know so much more than we did! India is such a big country and I have so much more to explore!

    • rhiydwi
      8th January 2017 / 4:19 pm

      Is it wrong that I’m jealous you have the whole of India at your feet?! Definitely one of my favourite countries, there’s something new everywhere you turn!

  15. 7th January 2017 / 5:39 pm

    Firstly I spent 4 years living in Wales, its is such a beautiful country to explore! And secondly I completely agree with you. before I left the UK I decided I needed to explore as much of it as I could. I was living on the boarded of Devon and Cornwall so I spent the best part of 6 months doing weekend or day trips. But I did leave to explore the other side of the world…Mostly because its hot and I was fed up of being damp and cold! But once I’m done I have a road trip round Scotland and the Ireland to plan!

    • rhiydwi
      8th January 2017 / 4:24 pm

      It really is, but I don’t think I appreciate it enough when I’m actually home! About time I changed that.
      Oh gosh yes, I’ve only been back for a month so far after being away for 8 and I’m already cursing every flipping raindrop that falls. Road trip around Scotland and Ireland sounds like a perfect little adventure!

  16. 7th January 2017 / 6:28 pm

    I totally agree with this! Living in Scotland I’ve made a pledge in the last few years to get out more here – It’s gorgeous! I also love Wales, we are climbing Snowdon this year and I’m really looking forward to it. There is a brilliant campsite (well glamping) called Seithfed Nef with is amazing for exploring the Llyn Peninsula.

    • rhiydwi
      8th January 2017 / 4:27 pm

      Reading your Scotland posts make me so jealous! I swear if I could drive (and had a car) your site would be enough to make me pack a few bits and bobs into my boot and drive off to the Highlands!
      Snowdon and NW Wales in general is high on my as-of-yet unwritten list of places to go in Wales, so I’ll keep your recommendation in mind to check out!

  17. 8th January 2017 / 8:51 am

    Great resolution and I think in UK there are many places and wonderful landscape to visit! I love the sentences you mentioned above: “I’m so obsessed with exploring the world that I don’t even take the time to explore my own backyard”! I thought the same until few years ago when I started exploring the world, but after visiting more than 25 countries around the world I went back home (for a while)! Well, I discovered many incredible places in my Island, travel helps to find yourself! 😀 thanks for sharing, helpful post

    • rhiydwi
      8th January 2017 / 4:22 pm

      Had to nip over to your site to double check where you’re from – if I’m right in thinking Sardinia, lucky you! Somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit and so close to the rest of Italy! Thanks for reading Davide.

  18. 8th January 2017 / 12:34 pm

    Love this post, I completely agree with exploring more of your own country! I always say this, and have started to travel around Ireland more. And I’ve discovered so many great new things!

    • rhiydwi
      8th January 2017 / 4:29 pm

      Ireland’s absolutely beautiful! Or I assume it is from the pictures I’ve seen anyway haha. It’s crazy how it only takes opening your eyes a little more to find things you never realised were there!

  19. 8th January 2017 / 6:37 pm

    That’s a great goal, Rhiannon! I love when my friends from out of town come to visit me in Chicago because it gives me a chance to play tourist and explore my own city. I’m sure there are also a lot of hidden gems here I haven’t found yet, so I’ll be making that a goal for myself for 2017 as well – to explore more of my own backyard. Thanks for sharing!

    • rhiydwi
      8th January 2017 / 9:02 pm

      Thanks Diana! I’m the same, although it’s not often that non-Welsh friends do come visit, but when they do it’s always the best! No problem, thanks for reading and all the best for 2017!

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